Category Archives: catholic

The Habit Does Not Make The Monk

One of the first lessons in the monastery is: “The Habit does not make the monk.”

Why? People are easily distracted by holy garbs, nice shoes, tailored clothes, and expensive cars. White collar criminals who use their position of trust to commit crimes against children depend on this. They need children and the public to be easily distracted.

Do not be distracted by a monk’s habit, a doctor’s white coat, or a judge’s black robe. By putting on a habit, one is not instantly infused with wisdom and understanding. Rather, it comes from years of listening to people, prayer, reflection and learning to recognize the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Why do I bring this up?

Recently, my eyes have been opened to other versions of the white collar crime I know as “solicitation in the confessional.” Crimens Sollicitationis—simply put—is the confessor’s abuse of power over the penitent.

Apparently, this kind of crime is not limited to Catholicism.

Very recently, a Rabbi was discovered to have been using the Mikvah—the ritual bath—to film the unsuspecting faithful. In the age of the internet and file sharing, one has to be concerned for those unknowingly filmed.

Even more recent is a reminder from Hollywood: actors can and do use their star power and the burning desire of unsuspecting minors for stardom to access, groom, sexually abuse and coerce them into silence.

We must remain vigilant and put children first.  The habit does not make the monk.




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Bishops Gone Wild

Think that Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn’s recent guilty plea is a shock to Rome? Alas, for the Holy See, this is nothing new.  The real question in the case of the Kansas City Bishop is: What options does the Holy See have available?

From the Roman viewpoint, this is a delicate balancing act.  On one side, the Holy See does not want to concede to the “people” demanding the removal of Finn. Why? Because it is reminiscent of 19th century Lay Trusteeism.  On the other side, the embarrassment of how Finn handled the Shawn Ratigan case (nearly ten years after the Charter and Norms were promulgated) is scandalous.

Here is a list of management techniques deployed by the Holy See in recent history to snuff out scandal created by Bishops.  The management techniques fall into two categories: Geographic and Privation of Office.

Geographic Solution

As a new priest twenty years ago, I saw the results of the Vatican quietly removing Bishop Lawrence Welsh of Spokane, WA.

Larry sexually assaulted a teenage prostitute in Chicago while at a Knights of Columbus convention.  Larry was the national Chaplain to the Knights.  Chicago police investigated and the Spokane newspaper exposed it.

The Holy See acted quickly, neutralizing the scandal by saying that Welsh was arrested for drunk driving and applying the “Geographic Solution.”  Larry was removed as the Ordinary of Spokane and relocated to Saint Paul/Minneapolis.

Privation of Office

The privation of office is a management technique that has at least eight different tactics.  The first is to transfer the bishop to the “missions” on another continent.  Second is to remove and sometimes invalidate his episcopal ordination.  A third common technique is to send the bishop for chemical addiction treatment (see Welsh above).  Fourth is to order the bishop attend a sexual abuse treatment program.  Fifth is the traditional solution of ordering the bishop to a life of prayer and penance in a monastery.  Sixth is to send the bishop to become a chaplain in a remote area.  Seventh is to quietly retire him to an emeritus status.  Lastly, they’ll jet the guy out of town and transfer him to Rome.

Here are more than a few examples of canon 416 (privation of office) actions that Rome has performed on members of the Hierarchy of recent memory:

a.  Bishop Lawrence Welsh of Spokane was removed, sent to “alcohol treatment,” and transferred to be an Auxiliary Bishop in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

b.  Bishop Emerson Moore of New York was removed and sent to Hazelden.  Bishop Moore died in an AIDS hospice in Stillwater, Minnesota.

c.  Bishop Thomas Dupre of Springfield, Mass was removed and sent to Saint Luke Institute.

d.  Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell of Jefferson City, MO was removed and sent to live a life of prayer and penance at Mepkin Abbey.

e.  Archbishop Robert Sanchez of Santa Fe was removed and sent to be a chaplain at a small convent of Hispanic nuns in southwestern Minnesota with summers in Anchorage.

f.  Bishop G. Patrick Ziemann of Santa Rosa, CA was removed and sent to live in a house on the grounds of a Benedictine monastery in Tucson.

g.  Several Bishops immediately resigned upon allegations of moral turpitude and then they remained as bishop emeritus.  Bishop Kendrick Williams of Lexington Ky.  Bishop Joseph Symons of Palm Beach, FL.  Bishop Timothy Harrington of Worcester, Mass.  Bishop Christopher Weldon of Springfield Mass.

h.  Abbot Laurence Soper O.S.B. was removed and sent to Rome.  Now he has an interpol arrest warrant out for his arrest for failure to appear on child abuse allegations in the U.K.

i.  Abbot John Eidenschink O.S.B. was removed and made a chaplain in a tiny town in northern minnesota.

More stories could be recounted but the evidence is substantial. The Holy See—through its many Vatican offices—has the power, authority and knowledge of what to do.

As to Bishop Finn?  Let’s spin the wheel. Since he has a criminal record (unlike many of his counterparts above) we may all end up being surprised.


Filed under canon law, catholic, clergy abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse

Castration vs. Isolation

Recently, German and Moldovan lawmakers have openly discussed using chemical castration as a viable treatment option for sex offenders.  Because the offender will no longer be able to act on his desires (and in many cases will lose sexual desire altogether), castration is offered as one option to prevent recidivism, or repeat offenses.

This topic deserves further discussion.

Roman Catholic Church has centuries of experience and could aid the discussion. Unlike any other institution, the church has trained psychiatrists and psychologists who specialize in child predators; has operated predator treatment facilities; and has sponsored internal studies where child predators were carefully evaluated, recidivism was discussed and chemical castration was practiced.

The Roman Catholic Church has grappled for years with the question of what to do with bishops, priests, religious and employees after they have sexually abused minors.  Thousands of pages of internal church documents outline topics like: “Post Treatment Options”, “What to do with the unassignable” and, “Where to place those given a sentence by a church court of a life of prayer and penance”.

Whatever the pithy phrase employed, the church has intensely studied the problem of predator clerics for nearly a century.

In the early 20th century, Reverend Thomas Verner Moore M.D. studied the causes behind the high rates of insanity amongst the clergy, including the driving forces of human nature.  Another early pioneer in treating child molesting clergy was Dr. Leo Bartemeirer M.D. at the Seton Institute.

On the west coast, the Servants of the Paraclete and Reverend Gerald Fitzgerald S.P., treated molesting priests with depo-provera as a form of chemical castration.  Fitzgerald surmised that if you turned off a predator’s sex drive, he would not be sexually attracted to children.  Depo-provera use continued into the 1990s where Father Stephen Rossetti Ph.D. makes mention of depo-provera at the Saint Luke Institute in Silver Spring, MD.

None of these institutions have had great success.

Experience has taught me that chemical castration of clerical sex offenders of minors is only effective for a small few.  For the clerics I have known or interviewed, the causes and composition of their sexual attraction to children are very complex.  According to Father Cannice Connors O.F.M. who ran the Southdown treatment facility in Canada and the Saint Luke Institute for three decades, the causes and composition of clerical sex offenders are more than bio-chemical.  It surely is not a “software” issue, only requiring a “reboot” of the clerics hard drive.  Complex clerical criminals such as Gilbert Gauthe, Oliver Francis O’Grady or Donald J. McGuire S.J. are cunning and calculating. In fact, even Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, S.P. calls them “Vipers.”

Ockham’s Razor – Isolate Sex Offenders from Target Population

William of Ockham’s (also known as Occam’s) Razor, or principle of economy, states that the simplest answer to a highly complex question is often the best answer.  Using that methodology, the answer for keeping children safe is simple: isolate sex offenders from their target population. Chemical castration is complex, difficult to maintain, and must be carefully monitored.  Its success rate is poor.

The simplest answer? Complete isolation where there is no possibility of predators have any access to their target population. The children of today and tomorrow are worth it.


Filed under canon law, catholic, clergy abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse

60 Minutes: The Archbishop of Dublin challenges the Church

This report by the American television news magazine 60 Minutes is a must-see for anyone interested in how the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is fostering, enabling and mismanaging the child sexual abuse and cover-up crisis, and how one bishop in Ireland is attempting to buck the system.

Watch the segment and read more here.

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The Bishop’s Man

“Blessed is the flow of the River of Truth, which helps us wash away the filth.”       Old Jewish prayer

The February 2011 Philadelphia Grand Jury report sent shock waves through the Roman Catholic clerical culture.  It was not because the sexual abuse of children was (again) being uncovered and publicly exposed, but instead because Vicars for Clergy and Vicar Generals could now be (and were) indicted for child endangerment as “The Bishop’s Man.”

The Bishop’s Man is the priest who confidentially carries out the will of his Bishop or Religious Superior.  His duties can involve investigating complaints, replacing a perpetrator, sending the perpetrator to a Catholic-run predator treatment facility, or even functioning as the priest perpetrator’s aftercare supervisor.  In the past, if the Bishop’s Man protected the Bishop by containing the scandal, he would someday be promoted. In return, the Bishop offered complete protection.

But this time-tested system was turned on its ear with Monsignor Lynn’s criminal indictment for his actions as Cardinal Bevilacqua’s Vicar.

In seminary spiritual training, many of us had to endure the lecture on the “Rule of Benedict”:  “the first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God (timor Dei) always before his eyes and never forgets it” (RB 7. 10)

For Vicars for Clergy the rule now reads: keep the fear of the prosecutor always before your eyes and never forget it.

The Philadelphia Grand Jury report found priests in ministry with credible accusations of childhood sexual abuse.  Last week the Los Angeles Vicar for Clergy Michael Myers was forced to resign because the press discovered yet another L.A. priest perpetrator still in ministry.  This is not an isolated incident.  Just a few days later, a Monterey priest was “discovered” in active ministry although there was a credible abuse complaint against him going back 19 years.

How did these dioceses miss the facts in the implementation of the Dallas 2002 Norms?  How were they missed for the John Jay audit?

The Church has been around two millennia and is not known for change.  For the roughly 700 Bishop’s men past or present who functioned as Vicars for Clergy and Vicar Generals, everything has changed.

Blessed is the flow of the River of Truth, which helps us to wash away the filth.

The book The Bishop’s Man by Canadian Journalist Linden MacIntyre is available here.

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The Real Horrendous and Nefarious Crime? Not Calling the Police

It’s papal trivia time!

In light of the recent explosion of media coverage about the clergy sex abuse scandal, revelations about the inaction of bishops to stop offenders, and the full-scale global cover-up of the rape of hundreds of thousands of children, let’s take a little quiz.

Name the Pope who insisted that all clerics who molest children be turned over to civil authorities and forced to live a life of penance at a monastery far away from children?

A)   Pope John Paul II (1978-2005)

B)   Pope Benedict XVI (2005-present)

C)   Pope Pius V (1566-1572)

The winner?  C.  Apparently, someone got it right 438 years ago.  And that was the last time anyone thought about calling the cops.

Church documents show that the crime of bishops, priests, deacons, and religious raping and sodomizing children has been known and understood by the Roman Papacy for at least a millennium.  Pope Saint Pius V (1566 -1572) referred to the crime against children in his Constitutions of August 30, 1568 as horrendum illud scelus: that horrendous crime.

And then he did something revolutionary:  He demanded action to keep kids safe.

Pius V sought to reform the criminal depravity and moral laxity of the clergy by instituting penalties that bishops, abbots, and superiors of religious orders could invoke on the cleric.  Pius V states:

§1. “Clearly it is known to the Lateran Council that clerics who have been caught sinning against nature with children must be cast out from the clergy or forced to lead a life of penance in the Monasteries.

Funny, he doesn’t say anything transferring a priest to a new location where people won’t know about his past …

In light of the recent developments of Gilbert Gauthe and Oliver O’Grady being loose in society, it probably would be prudent to follow Pope Pius V second point and place the 4,392 clerics mentioned in the John Jay Study in Monasteries without schools.

§2. “But lest the contagion of such a disease grow stronger, we have concluded in Council that the Clerical defendants of this nefarious crime must be punished severely, that for those who do not shudder at the damnation of their souls the avenging secular sword of civil laws may surely deter them.”

Pope Pius V concluded in the sixteenth century that punishment must be severe and the offending clerics turned over to civil authorities.

The Church, according to Professor Henry Charles Lea’s History of the Inquisition, did call the police.  Clerics were handed various punishments including a life of rowing in the gallows and even death.

With the punishments available today, if the bishops followed the leadership of Pope Saint Pius V, many clerics would have only scarred one child instead of the dozens each priest perpetrators has.  Somewhere between the 16th and 20th centuries, the bishops stopped turning clerics over to civil authorities.

§3. “Therefore, we intend to pursue more fully now and with more vigor what has already been decreed in this pestilence, and we deprive any Presbyter and any other Clerics, either diocesan or religious, of whatever grade, rank, office or privilege who commit so dire and unspeakable an act.  Those demoted by Ecclesiastical judge or Bishop should be immediately delivered to the secular power to receive punishment.”

Pope Saint Pius V is clear: Call the police and turn the cleric over to civil authorities.  For the United States bishops or William Cardinal Levada of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith to claim they did not understand the gravity of the problem or what to do until 1984 is lavender lunacy.  And a downright lie.

The penalties and procedures to stop bishops, priests, deacons, and religious that permanently sexually scare children have been available for centuries.

So, what is the horrendous crime today? The bishops and priests and not calling the police.


Filed under Background Information, canon law, catholic, clergy abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse

Church Crisis Intervention Teams – And The Men Who Help Them

In preparation for a time of severe crisis, it is ancient and natural for an institution to create a crisis response team.

With this concept in mind, I began a search for possible clerics that a Bishop or Religious Superior would assign to a crisis response team in order to deflect an impending priest child sex abuse scandal.

I had an easy place to start: The civil window in Delaware (which closes in early July) and the cases spawning from it inspired me to look for important clerics in the Wilmington/Philadelphia area. As I went through some dusty books, the works of Father Benedict Groeschel O.F.M. Cap. and Father John F. Harvey O.S.F.S. jumped off the shelf.


Father Groeschel, like Fathers Thomas Verner Moore O.S.B. and Father Gerald Fitzgerald S.P. before him, has – for decades – been a spiritual director and psychologist to priests who sexually abused children. As the director for spiritual development in the Archdiocese of New York and professor at the Institute for Psychological Sciences in Arlington, VA, Father Groeschel’s actions and deeds make him a natural choice for an integral role protecting the Church, Religious Order, and Priest who offended against minors and vulnerable adults.

Most crisis response team members are chosen because they are skilled, loyal, and above all, discreet. Father John Harvey is a little bit different. As director of the Courage Center, Harvey pioneers a uniquely Roman Catholic approach to homosexuality, which many contend violates the natural law and human reason. But in spite of this, Father Harvey was deployed by his Order for a role that required a discretion that seemed beyond him: the crisis intervention team for clerics who raped and sodomized children.

And still, he couldn’t be discrete.

Father Harvey wrote in 1986, “for several years I have been engaged in what is best described as crisis intervention, working with clinical psychologist John F. Kinnane, of Catholic University, Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons of Philadelphia, and with treatment centers in the rehabilitation of clerics and religious who had become emotionally and sexually involved with boys or adolescent males… we have been able to share our perception with them and to help fourteen clerics get some measure of control over their lives.” (The Homosexual Person, page 226, Ignatius Press)

The amount of knowlege that these two men have is vast and untouched. I can’t even imagine what we would learn if either of these men shared what they know with the people who need it most – victims.

The time has come for prosecutors, law enforcement, civil authorities and mental health professionals to find out what these two men – and the other crisis intervention teams of the Roman Church – know in order to assist survivors. As Pope Leo IX wrote to Peter Damian in his response to receiving the Book of Gomorrah, “he who does not attack vice encourages it.”

Or as I like to say: if you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem

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